Friday, July 19, 2002

Federal funds in works for city

Bill contains $1.4M for police reforms

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Congress is one step closer to giving Cincinnati some of the money the city needs to reform its police department.

        The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $43 billion spending bill for the Justice, Commerce and State departments Thursday. It includes $1.4 million for upgrades to the Cincinnati Police Department's record-keeping system and $750,000 for a “risk management” system that will help the department monitor officers and train them in appropriate uses of force.

        Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, is a member of the committee and helped secure the funding.

        “This is a huge victory. It would be very difficult under these budget circumstances to be able to get even this much,” Mr. DeWine said. “Now, I want to be honest with you, we'll have to fight to keep this in the conference committee. But this is a major step.”

        The 2003 appropriations bill must still be approved by the full Senate, and there's been no action in the House on a request for similar funding from Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati.

        Though it's far less than the $12 million the city says it needs, city officials said some federal support is crucial — especially because the city faces a projected $27 million budget deficit.

        “We'll take anything we can get, and we always want more,” said Rashad Young, the acting city manager.

        The police reforms are mandated by an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, which investigated the “patterns and practices” of the Cincinnati Police Department following the police shooting of Timothy Thomas last year. That shooting in Over-the-Rhine led to the worst rioting in the city in more than 30 years.

        “This will obviously help Cincinnati comply with the agreement,” Mr. DeWine said. “But it will have the effect of freeing other money to be used for more traditional law enforcement purposes.”

        Also included in the Senate bill is a $1 million grant to Hamilton County for upgrades to its computer-aided dispatch system.


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